Navigation Links
A well-defended territory is what some female hummingbirds find most attractive in a mate
Date:4/7/2010

When it comes to attracting a mate, flowers and sweets often do the trickeven for one of the world's smallest birdsthe purple throated carib, a hummingbird species native to the mountainous islands of the Eastern Caribbean. Scientists recently discovered that it is in the best interest of male purple-throated caribs to defend and maintain a territory with a high density of nectar-producing flowers. Why? Because it is the quality of this territoryrather than flashy plumage or elaborate courtship displaysthat attracts the most females.

John Kress, a botanist at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, and Ethan Temeles, an ornithologist and biology professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, have spent several years researching purple throated caribs (Eulampis jugularis) in the wild on the island of Dominica. What they observed was unique among all bird species: successful male caribs maintained and defended territories with nectar supplies that were two to five times greater than their daily needs and also isolated part of their crop for the exclusive feeding rights of visiting females. The key to this female-only feeding area was the presence of heliconia flowers.

"This is the first time such behavior has ever been observed in a bird species," said Kress. "Not only is the male defending a huge territory from competing males, but he's also defending a big chunk of it exclusively for females who he is trying to attract as potential mates. He is farming the nectar for these dual purposes."

Male and female purple throated caribs are alike in plumage, but males are considerably larger and have longer wings than females. Females, however, have bills that are 20 percent longer and 30 percent more curved than the bills of the males, meaning that they are physically able to feed from flowers that males cannot. This is also known as "sexual resource partitioning" and for the purple throated carib it applies to two species of Heliconia, a primarily neotropical genus of plants. Male caribs feed from the Caribbean heliconia (Heliconia caribaea), while females feed primarily from the lobster claw heliconia (Heliconia bihai).

This close correspondence between the physical traits of the two different heliconia flowers and the bill morphology of each sex of purple-throated carib strongly suggests that the process of coevolution (the evolution of two or more species that interact closely with one another, with each species adapting to changes in the other) is the cause of this fit between the birds and the flowers. Furthermore, this process is strongly reinforced by the fact that the different energy requirements of the male and female carib are uniquely matched by the energy rewards in the nectar of their respective heliconia flowers.

The scientists report that a female's choice of a male depends on the nectar supplies within his territory, which in turn depended on his prevention of nectar losses to competing male purple-throated caribs and other nectar feeding intruders.

"One of the most important aspects of maintaining an abundant nectar crop for the male carib is keeping intruders out," Temeles said. "We found that males that were most successful at defending their territories from intruders also were the ones that were most successful at dominating neighboring males and at feeding on neighbors' territories."

The male's reward for spending the time and energy in defending his territory was, of course, the attraction of potential mates. Temeles and Kress observed that the rates of female intrusions to feed on defended territories were highest in late morning and early afternoon, at times when the amount of nectar in undefended plants was lowest. "Once the females are in the territories they are allowed to "sip from the male's wine cellar." If she likes what she is sampling, then mating takes place," Temeles said.

Kress and Temeles plan to extend their studies to other islands in the Eastern Caribbean to test how this plant-pollinator system has evolved in different regions and in different ecosystems.


'/>"/>

Contact: John Gibbons
gibbonsjp@si.edu
202-633-5187
Smithsonian
Source:Eurekalert  

Related medicine news :

1. Texas Health Dallas Launches Screening Program for Female Heart Disease
2. Older female cancer survivors have added health issues compared to their counterparts
3. Over 3000 Participants Expected at “Zero Tolerance to FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) Run”
4. Female Teachers Pass on Math Anxieties
5. Female athletes injured more than male athletes
6. Restrictions on female plasma may not be warranted
7. College Age Females Can Kiss Chlamydia Goodbye for Valentines Day
8. Restrictions on Plasma From Female Donors May Need Revisiting
9. Senegal: Total End of Female Genital Cutting Now in Sight
10. Why BPA leached from safe plastics may damage health of female offspring
11. Chicago AIDS Advocates Launch Female Condom Campaign
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
A well-defended territory is what some female hummingbirds find most attractive in a mate
(Date:6/27/2016)... ... June 27, 2016 , ... ePAY ... partnership with Connance, a healthcare industry leader providing predictive analytics to optimize ... combine to provide health systems, hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers with dramatic ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... On June 10-11, ... of the 2016 Cereal Festival and World’s Longest Breakfast Table in Battle Creek, MI, ... the city’s history as home to some of the world’s leading providers of cereal ...
(Date:6/26/2016)... , ... June 26, 2016 , ... ... once they have been diagnosed with endometriosis. These women need a treatment plan ... require a comprehensive approach that can help for preservation of fertility and ultimately ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... Viejo, California (PRWEB) , ... June 25, 2016 , ... ... to fit their specific project," said Christina Austin - CEO of Pixel Film Studios. ... fully customizable and all within Final Cut Pro X . Simply select a ...
(Date:6/25/2016)... ... ... On Friday, June 10, Van Mitchell, Secretary of the Maryland Department of ... recognition of their exemplary accomplishments in worksite health promotion. , The Wellness at Work ... Symposium at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum Heights. iHire was one of 42 businesses ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... , June 24, 2016 The Academy of ... recommendations that would allow biopharmaceutical companies to ... entities that make formulary and coverage decisions, a move ... of new medicines. The recommendations address restrictions ... appear on the drug label, a prohibition that hinders ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... and SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. , June 24, 2016 ... mobile pulmonary function testing company, is now able to perform sophisticated ... by ndd Medical Technologies , Inc. Patients ... hospital-based labs.  Thanks to ndd,s EasyOne PRO ® , ARL patients ... get any needed testing done in the comfort of her own ...
(Date:6/24/2016)... -- According to a new market research ... Safety Pen Needles), Needle Length (4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm, ... Purchase (Retail, Non-Retail) - Trends & Global Forecasts to ... for the forecast period of 2016 to 2021. This ... 2021 from USD 1.65 Billion in 2016, growing at ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: